Someone call 911.
A young woman has chased a bottle of Aspirin with a bottle of vodka.
A complex and realistically intense drama released in 1999 and directed by James Mangold, "Girl,
Interrupted" is essentially a modernized version of the film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest" with a
I’m the Ranting Usher. Let me talk you to your seat.
While the film targets young women, the male demographic can appreciate it for its veracity, intensity,
depth and dark humor. Angelina Jolie’s character recites a poem dedicated to poets and other artists who
attempted suicide. “Razors pain you, rivers are damp. Acid stains you, drugs cause cramps. Guns aren’t
lawful and nooses give. Gas smells awful. You might as well live."
When Suzanna Kaysen, played by Winona Ryder, is being rushed to the ER, a series of alternating
flashbacks occur. Some are woven in smooth sequential patterns but others are loosely strung together.
“Sometimes, it’s hard for me to stay in one place. Times moves backward and forward to now and then to
back again. I can’t control it.”
The elliptical glimpses of Suzanna’s life are meant to demonstrate her borderline personality disorder
(BPD), a mental illness that initiates emotional inadequacy and insecurity in young women. By creating
intriguing insights into Suzanna’s character, offering a swift pace and utilizing the military draft as a way to
mark the 1960’s time period, director James Mangold proves to be a sophisticated storyteller.
Suzanna’s therapist recommends her to Claymore, which according to Internet Movie Database (Imdb) was
once a real state hospital for the mentally ill in Harrisburg, PA until it closed in 2005.
When Susanna arrives, she meets Valerie, the head nurse, played by Whoopi Goldberg. Valerie is the face
of “the establishment” whom no one takes seriously and who everyone wants to rebel against. “I can
take a lot of crazy sh** from a lot of crazy people.”
Given Goldberg’s free-spirited role in "Sister Act," it’s interesting seeing her portray an authority figure.
While on a tour of the facility, Suzanna encounters the loud, erratic, sociopathic Lisa Rowe (Angelina
Jolie). “You people, you’re all weak,” she yells. “You people are f****** sick.”
Little exposition is provided to explain Lisa’s background which lends her an element of mystery. Jolie
portrays Lisa Rowe with such a broad and eccentric range that she was awarded an Oscar for Best
According to Imdb, Jolie avoided Ryder during shooting because she thought seeing human qualities in
her might jeopardize her performance. By bringing a sense of detachment to the role, Jolie juxtaposes
hers and Ryder’s character so they appear to be two entirely different people on separate sides of the
The gradual processes of Susanna’s recovery are shown intermittently while the film draws toward a
dramatic climax. “Crazy isn’t being broken,” she writes in a journal, “or swallowing a dirty secret. It’s your
or me amplified. Maybe I was just crazy or maybe life is.”
Some questions remain unanswered. What does a “recovered borderline” really mean?
What audiences take away from "Girl, Interrupted" is that a dark secret or is usually the root of mental
illness. As long as we have the courage to pull it out of ourselves and confront it, we can keep it from
distorting who we truly are.
I’m the Ranting Usher. Let me talk you into peace of mind.
Do you agree with my review? What do you take away from "Girl, Interruplted?" In what ways can you
relate to it? Let me know in the comments section.
|Click the link below for
information on buying or renting
this DVD from Amazon.com